Matthew 7:24-29

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!” Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.” Matthew 7:24-29

New Orleans flooded again last weekend. Nine inches of rain in less than four hours overwhelmed the capacity of the various pumps and drains. Once again the city drowned under several feet of flood water that took over fourteen hours to drain away. Living in Houston, also prone to flash floods, I can appreciate how quickly such events wreak havoc with people’s lives. No matter what anyone does, it will happen again, and again, and again.

New Orleans was first settled in 1718. It has been around a long time. It has seen many floods through the years. Yet even in Katrina, the oldest parts of the city came out alright as that is the highest part of town. But the rest, some of which is seven feet below sea level, did not. And since the city was built on a delta, the underlying soil is largely organic which means that it collapses after water is pumped out of it. The city is sinking as much as 2 inches a year.

So why is it still there? Why do they still try to prop it up and pump it out? For the same reason it was founded in the first place – it is an important trade city, built where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico. It is the largest port in the United States, the third largest in the world.

New York is also a coastal city, a port city, built at the mouth of the Hudson River. But the skyscrapers of Manhattan are possible because the city is built on bedrock. Even that changes and shifts over time but nothing like a place like New Orleans.

The crazy thing is that none of this is news to anyone. This closing story in Jesus’ sermon on the mount is pure common sense. Everyone knows that it is wiser to build a house on solid rock than on sand. And everyone knows that no one can stop storms from coming, rain from falling, or wind from blowing. We all know the story of the Three Little Pigs!

Yet we still wander off the reservation. We still think we’ve “arrived” when we buy a house at the beach. We’re still surprised when storms reveal the sandy foundations upon which we have built our lives. We’re still shocked at how quickly the devastation happens, and how long the recovery process takes.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand, all other ground is shifting sand…

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, storms assail us and we suffer. Many of these storms are of our own making, our failure to take heed to your wisdom. We trade success for security and we suffer. Today we place our trust in you, in all things. May your words and your presence be the bedrock of our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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2 Responses to “Matthew 7:24-29”

  1. Carolee Groux Says:

    The text today reminds me of this Lutheran anthem:

    1 Built on the Rock the Church shall stand
    Even when steeples are falling.
    Crumbled have spires in ev’ry land;
    Bells still are chiming and calling,
    Calling the young and old to rest,
    But above all the soul distressed,
    Longing for rest everlasting.

    2 Surely in temples made with hands
    God, the Most High, is not dwelling;
    High above earth His temple stands,
    All earthly temples excelling.
    Yet He who dwells in heav’n above
    Chooses to live with us in love,
    Making our bodies His temple.

    5 Grant then, O God, Your will be done,
    That, when the church bells are ringing,
    Many in saving faith may come
    Where Christ His message is bringing:
    “I know mine own, My own know Me,
    You, not the world, My face shall see.
    My peace I leave with you. Amen.”

  2. Sharon Says:

    P. Kerry, thank you so much for this blessed series of devotions illuminating the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. They have been a help and a guide to me and to those to whom I forward them. They would be a fine resource put together in a booklet. God bless you.

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